Finding the ‘We’ in Patient Engagement

by | Jun 6, 2016

The link between patient engagement and better health outcomes is undisputed. And as a growing number of consumers adopt mobile health apps, physicians believe patients will have even more opportunities to “engage” in their care management between visits, thus driving health outcomes even higher.

But what health briefs or statistics won’t tell you is that, too often, patients can become dis-engaged from mobile health pretty quickly. Without a partner on the receiving end, such as a coach or physician who has both clinical knowledge and a stake in helping the patient, a patient can lose interest in maintaining — or improving — their health. In addition, while mobile apps help patients access a lot of information, they often provide little in the way of motivation or guidance tailored to individuals.

In order for patients to sustain their engagement in a meaningful way that drives positive outcomes, there needs to be at least two mutually invested partners in mobile health initiatives: the consumer/patient and the health expert, namely a health coach.

While physicians or healthcare providers are important partners in patients’ overall health and wellness, it isn’t realistic to expect that a physician could devote additional time to check in with a patient, or monitor his food logs, weight, and medication compliance on a daily basis. Physicians are encumbered with patient visits, prescribing medication, and collaborating with other healthcare providers — among a dozen other things.

A health coach — one that is solely focused on helping individuals make changes and achieve health goals — is in a better position to tap into sophisticated analytics software to monitor multiple patients’ health metrics, goals, and compliance lapses. Using this data, a health coach knows when to intervene (such as when a patient’s weight spikes in a short period of time, in the case of a diabetic patient) and to provide encouragement (such as when a patient exceeds one or more health goals).

The partnership between a coach and a patient is a mutually beneficial one, as patients appreciate having a stakeholder in their health outcomes, and coaches benefit from helping patients achieve success. Mobile apps and wearable technology will continue to grow over the next several years, as more consumers become accustomed to monitoring their health with the help of technology. By helping patients stay motivated and holding them accountable, coaches make mobile health collaborative. And the result is tremendous improvement in patient outcomes and disease management.